In any case, I started a series on sourdough over at University Is Boring, my main blog.
We're Making Sourdough! (Day 1) can be found there.
Because it could be a pain to have to click a link to read what I did on day one, here's an excerpt from that post:
With all this free time, I've decided that I can make sourdough starter, no problem. It's not like I have anything else to do, and if I can't remember to have a look at it every 12 hours, then I'm stupid and deserve for it to die. I'm following the instructions from Sourdough Home because it seemed fairly comprehensive.I'm describing it because I don't have pictures and because pictures can suck anyway.
Since I have a balance, I can do it by weight. Yay for being slightly non-american, I guess!
Day 1: Mixed about 50 g each of unbleached safeway brand white flour and tap water at 21:30.
I put it in a clean (large) applesauce jar, covered it gently with the lid (to keep out bugs, dust, and housemates), and put it on top of the refrigerator. I'll be scraping the sides and doing most of my mixing with a trusty red spatula.
I'll put up some pictures when I get batteries, hopefully tomorrow.
Right now, it's just a thick paste of flour and water. Woo hoo.
I'm a little nervous. Because my computer decided to crash, I went and fed the starter before reading Mike's instructions from Sourdough Home:
After mixing up the starter, wait about 12 hours. Take the plastic wrap off the starter so you can get a good look at it and smell it too. At this point there is a very good chance that you'll see bubbles in the starter. If not, stir the starter vigorously, cover the starter again and let it sit for another 12 hours or so. Then check and stir again. If you don't see bubbles in two days, pitch the flour and water and start over. If you go through this twice with no results, you may want to change brands of whole wheat flour. And you may want to switch to bottled spring water. Changes to the smell of the starter will tell you that something is happening. If you looked at the Starting A Starter page, you should know that the first critters to start a starter may or may not be the final ones to rule the starter. So, if it smells bad don't be too surprised or at all discouraged - it's a sign of life, and that's a good thing.
Once you see bubbles, it's time to give the starter a feeding adding another 1/4 cup of water stirring that into the starter, then adding another 1/2 cup of your whole grain flour and stirring that in. (If you are weighing, use another 50 grams each of flour and water.) I like to stir after I add the water and again after I add the flour, it puts more air into the starter, which helps its growth at this phase of its life and it also makes it easier to mix. Even though this is hardly a starter, I think of this as the starter's first feeding. Any time you add flour to your starter, you are feeding it, much as you are feeding your dog when you put dog food in a bowl and put it on the floor for your pooch. You might notice that the feeding was equal parts of flour and water by weight and was enough to double the size of the starter. We're being deliberately loose on the timing at the start of making a starter. (emphasis mine)The thing is, is that I didn't see bubbles or smell anything, but I added the first feeding anyway. So, here's my morning Day 2 update, which may end up being the "well, I guess we'll make "Day 3" be "Starting Over" because I killed it" turning point.
Day 2: Saw thin layer of water on top of paste; no apparent change in size. Didn't smell starter, but didn't smell anything when I took off lid. Added 50 g each of safeway brand unbleached white flour and tap water. Scraped sides with trusty red spatula to prevent mold. May have doubled volume, but the most obvious thing was the gloopy texture of the "starter", which had changed from the smooth paste the night before.
Hopefully I didn't kill it, but it did have that gloopyness. I have high hopes. Besides, sourdough's been going on for thousands of years, says Mike, so this might not be enough to kill it.
UPDATE: I didn't kill it! 2 hours after I posted the above, I checked it, and it has a yeasty smell and bubbles.
The moral of the story, kids, is that you should learn to read in a such a manner that you actually retain information, and also that if your computer freezes on startup after a BSOD, just force restart it before you go and add stuff to your sourdough starter. Either that, or you could get a mac, or you could write down the instructions the night before.